The provincial government has upgrade the drought level for the South Coast and Lower Fraser Valley regions to level four, the highest level possible indicating extremely dry conditions.
Level four criteria requires water supply to be at a level that is insufficient to meet socio-economic and ecosystem needs, according to the Government of B.C. This level mandates voluntary conservation, restrictions and a regulatory response.
“Further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife, and fish stocks. All water users are urged to maximize their water conservation efforts,” states the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in a news release.
The upgrade could result in the temporary suspension of water licenses or water approvals.
Despite low water supply, the government ensures those living in major communities and backed by reservoir storage , such as Metro Vancouver, are less likely to deal with water supply shortages, all water users are being encouraged to respect water conservation bylaws and do their part to maintain necessary water levels.
While level four does constitute the highest numbered drought level, there is one classification that no one hopes the province will ever declare – “loss of supply”. If loss of supply occurs, that means there is the potential loss of a community’s potable (drinkable) or fire fighting supply, and requires an emergency response.
Along with dry conditions come wildfires, and 2015 is shaping up to be one of the worst fire seasons on record. To attempt to curb human-caused fires the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is currently reviewing fines and penalties for people who endanger B.C. forests through use of cigarettes or campfires. New penalties could include banning repeat offenders from provincial parks, increasing fines, and possible vehicle impoundment for those who flick lit cigarette butts out of their vehicles.